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Meet The Leaders - Common Council President Dr. Robert Rubino

Greg Elliott

Thursday, January 16, 2014 • 2:57pm

Editor's note:  This continues the Meet The Leaders profile series on the Summit Alternative Press.  The objective is to provide our readers the opportunity to hear from Summit's leaders in government, public safety, commerce and other areas, regarding Summit's present and future outlook, their background and what they enjoy doing in their private life.  In order to keep the format consistent, The Alternative Press presents each individual with the same five questions.  We publish their answers unedited.

Today - Summit Common Council President Dr. Robert Rubino


Biography / Background
 
I have lived in Summit for 18 years.
 
I was born in and raised in Nutley NJ, the youngest of nine kids.  My father, a World War 2 vet,  was a chemical engineer and my mom a homemaker.  I received my undergraduate and medical degree from Rutgers (formerly UMDNJ).  I did my residency training at University hospital in Newark. I met my wife Susan while she was still in medical school.
 
I came to know Summit first as a high school kid, painting houses with my brother-in-law, Mike Ryder, a Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School teacher who passed away a few years ago.  Spending my summers here working, I aspired to one day move to Summit and raise a family.  I have been in private practice for 18 years in obstetrics and gynecology at Overlook and Saint Barnabas Medical Centers.  I started my own practice 15 years ago, and it has grown to an eight physician group with offices in Summit, West Orange, Bayonne and Clark.  I am an assistant clinical professor of OBGYN and I was the residency director for the OBGYN residency program at Overlook hospital, at the time a division of New Jersey Medical School's residency program in Newark, for several years in the early 2000's.
 
In addition to my private practice, I participate in clinical research, and am a principal investigator in two on-going trials regarding minimally invasive surgery in gynecology, which I involve local high school students through my "Tomorrow's MDs" mentoring program.  I have been married to Dr. Susan Rubino for 16 years, we have three kids: Anthony (11), Abigail (9), and Danielle (7). Interests include tennis,  photography, reading. and travel. 
 
 
What inspired you to pursue a role in public office?
 
I have been inspired by many people and ideas.  One example of inspiration was a biography about Alexander Hamilton, written by Ron Chernow.  Hamilton's story of dedication to performing at the highest levels professionally and simultaneously working tirelessly in his public service to the country animated me to get involved.

A second example would simply be gratitude.  I am grateful for having been raised in a country that requires hard work as your only obstacle to success, in my view, it is a happy duty to serve my community.


What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing Summit today?

The Merck departure is both a challenge and an opportunity.  Change is inevitable, as community, we have to be able to pivot,  be optimistic, and let the world know we are open for business.  I spoke to the Governor recently about this very issue, he pointed out that the new " NJ Economic Opportunity Act" passed in September, should help.  Fostering a business friendly environment is the best way local government can convert the Merck loss into a gain, the private market should take care of the rest.

Union county taxes continue to present a big challenge.  I traveled to Elizabeth and invited the County Manager and the freeholders to a meeting with us in the finance committee to see how we have been able to keep our municipal tax rate 0.4 and 0.25% for the past two years.

One of our best opportunities our citizens.  We have to be energetic in recruiting positive, enthusiastic volunteers to dedicate their time.  We are lucky to have a tremendous, diverse talent pool residing right here in our community, getting them involved to volunteer for city boards and committees is what makes this city thrive.

Our entire city is an opportunity.  We already have great events that attract non-residents and the physical setting is beautiful.  I would like to see diverse events added to our annual list, perhaps a statewide youth baseball or lacrosse tournament.  We are a biotech and pharma state, an industry conference in town could be a great opportunity for local business interests.  Events like these can help showcase Summit to potential new residents and businesses to keep us thriving in the future.


What are the top priorities on your "to do list" as a city council member?

Active engagement of the freeholders- this is our best hope in getting better representation of Summit's interests at the county level, and I will continue my visits to the county.

Getting the message out to potential corporate tenants at the Merck site about the "NJ Economic Opportunity Act" tax incentives to help bring their business to Summit.
 
Continue  Implementing the "T-File" system.  The "tickler-file" is a system I initiated last year that has set reminders for council to look back at mainly spending items that were passed with a promise of savings and efficiency, to see if they deliver on their proposed benefits, and react accordingly.


When you are not being a City Council member, what do you do in your spare time?

We have three children so not surprisingly, my spare time is dedicated to my wife Susan and my kids.  I work locally, which allows me to be very involved with my kids.  I enjoy dropping them off or picking them up from school, whenever possible.

Athletics are a big part of our family - I enjoy coaching my son Anthony's baseball team, watching my daughter Abigail compete in gymnastics, and simply playing with my youngest daughter Danielle .  The leftover “me time” is for the occasional tennis game, running, and reading, and I am ever vigilant for opportunities to steal a private dinner or lunch out alone with Susan.


Five words that describe Summit are...

Idyllic
 
Worthy
 
Friendly
 
Generous
 
Americana
 
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